Angangueo is a small cozy town located in the Mexican state of Michoacan. The town of Angangueo is officially called Mineral de Angangueo to distinguish it from the rest of the municipality of Angangueo.
Angangueo was founded after a large mineral deposit was discovered in the late 18th century. The mines gave out in the 20th century, but the proximity to Monarch Butterfly Reserve has brought in some tourism.
The town is located in a small canyon, rugged with high mountains. This high-altitude location lends a unique appeal to Angangueo, making it an ideal destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers.
The region is dominated by lush, pine-covered mountains that stretch as far as the eye can see. The town of Angangueois part of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This reserve serves as a critical sanctuary for the incredible monarch butterfly migration. Visitors to Angangueo can witness millions of monarch butterflies that migrate here during the winter months.
The cool and temperate climate of the region, combined with its elevation, creates an ideal habitat for not only monarch butterflies but also a diverse range of flora and fauna. The municipality is ideal for hiking.
Angangueo offers a one-of-a-kind experience for nature lovers. Whether you’re captivated by the monarch butterfly migration or simply looking for a serene mountain retreat, Angangueo has something to offer.
Plan your visit accordingly to make the most of this hidden gem.
Angangueo is located in the far northeast of the state of Michoacan. It is part of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt and the Sierra de Angangueo. It is very mountainous terrain with an average altitude of 2,580 m.
The region is mostly covered in forests of conifers with pines, as well as mixed forests of conifers such as cedar with broad-leafed trees. Two rivers pass through, the Puerco and the Carrillos along with several arroyos.
Wildlife includes weasels, rabbits, squirrels, skunks, deer, and various birds. Much of the municipality is part of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, which contains a major colony of butterflies each winter.
Situated at an altitude of approximately 2,700 m above sea level, Angangueo has a spring-like climate all year round. Some areas in this region receive rain only in the summer and others all year round.
Due to the elevation, summers are mild, with daytime temperatures averaging around 21-24°C, making it a pleasant escape from the heat. However, nights can be quite chilly, so be sure to pack some warm clothing.
Winters are colder, with temperatures dropping to around 0-5°C at night.
In winter the monarch butterflies arrive, seeking the temperate conditions of Angangueo’s forests. If you plan to visit during this time to witness the butterfly migration, prepare for cold weather and possible rain.
The best time to visit Angangueo
The best time to visit Angangueo largely depends on your interests. If you’re a butterfly enthusiast, then winter, particularly from late November to early March, is the prime time to witness the monarch butterfly migration.
For those who prefer milder weather and outdoor activities like hiking and exploring picturesque landscapes, the spring and early summer months are perfect. The weather is pleasantly cool, and the forests are in full bloom.
The word “Angangueo” of Purépecha origin translates as “town between mountains”, “at the entrance of the cave”, “very high thing” or ” in the forest”. But there is no unanimity agreement as to the origin of the name.
The town is officially called Mineral de Angangueo to distinguish it from the rest of the municipality of Angangueo.
When Nuño de Guzmán arrived in the area in 1550, he described it as a “no-man’s land” with no indication of the riches that were underneath the mountains and forests here.
The lands were awarded to Gonzalo de Salazar by viceroy Antonio de Mendoza as part of a larger area encompassing Zitácuaro and Taximaroa shortly thereafter.
Some mining and settlement began in the mid-16th century, but it remained relatively unpopulated until the very late 18th century when large deposits of minerals were discovered on what is now called the former hacienda of Angangueo.
These minerals included gold, silver, copper, and more, and brought a rush of people into the area.
The town of Angangueo was officially founded in 1792 and it became a municipality in 1831. During the struggle between Conservative and Liberal forces in Mexico in the 19th century, possession of the town changed hands.
In 1865, General Régules took the town plaza for Conservative forces but Liberal forces retook the town the following year.
The Temple of the Immaculate Conception was begun in 1882.
In the middle of the 19th century, mining rights were assigned to an English company. In the 20th century, it was then conceded to the U.S. company American Smelting and Refining Company, the last foreign concern to have mining rights.
In 1953, an accident in the Dolores Mine claimed twenty-five miners and the federal government expropriated the area.
It was then managed by the Impulsora Minera de Angangueo, which continued mining here until 1991 when it was decided that the exploitation of the mines was no longer economically feasible.
From then to the present, there have been disputes between the shareholders in the Impulsora and former miners and the state of Michoacan over the right to continue mining. The mines are considered to be part of the butterfly reserve.
In the mid-20th century, the town had a population of 10,000, its own newspaper, and even a mint.
However, it has steadily declined since then as the mines gave out.
The town gained a new source of income with tourism with the establishment of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve and the promotion of the butterfly colonies located very near the town by magazines such as National Geographic and Mexico Desconocido, beginning in 1980.
This has promoted the opening of hotels and restaurants near the butterfly sites, and small transport services thereto. However, this has not brought the town back to its former size.
On 5 February 2010, heavy rains and hail caused flooding and mudslides in the region, with Angangueo being hard hit. Landslides on two of the hills surrounding the town buried sections and blocked roads. Many houses built on the riverbanks were swept away.
The deforestation from legal and illegal logging contributed to the landslides. In addition, cleared areas on hillsides were used to build homes. As an alternative to mining, was suggested to develop tourism in Angangueo as a Pueblo Mágico.
Later the same year, federal authorities announced that no new residents could move into the town and that the current population would be relocated. The decision was made with the rationale that the landslides create too big a hazard for people to live in the current location and a “New Angangueo” would be built.
However, local residents were against the plan.
Efforts to relocate the town were officially begun in June 2010, with a projected 600 homes in a location called Barrio Sustentable Monarca. The construction was halted by September of the same year, with only a layout traced on the site and no new homes started.
Like most mining towns, Anguangueo has an irregular layout of its streets and blocks, which has remained the same since colonial times. There is one main road, which is called both Nacional and Morelos.
This road leads up the canyon and ends at the Plaza de la Constitución.
Most of the houses around the town are made of adobe with wood details and red tile roofs. There are also balconies that contain pots with flowers in the summer.
Like a number of other mining towns from the same epoch, there are a number of tunnels that connect buildings, like the one that connects the Casa Parker with the Inmaculada Concepción church.
The main plaza is flanked by two churches: the parish of San Simón and the Inmaculada Concepcíon.
The Inmaculada Concepción church was built by a single family, in pink stone in Gothic style to imitate in miniature the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. The main altar was made of marble from Italy, with images of Saint Joseph and the Virgin Mary from Paris.
The tabernacle contains the “chalice of Angangueo,” an important example of Baroque silverwork.
The San Simon parish is smaller, built with blue-grey stone.
Other chapels include Santa Maria Gorita, Misericordia, and Jesus Nazareno.
The Monument to the Miner is located on a lookout over the town and the Señor del Rescate Chapel, which is now the site of municipal offices.
Cultural Centers & Museums
The Casa Parker was an old train station. In the mid-20th century, it became the home of Bill and Joyce Parker, an English/American couple.
Bill was the last mine administrator of the American Smelting and Refining Company before the mines were nationalized. The couple became part of the community and eventually, their house was preserved and made into a historical museum.
Another museum in the area is the El Molino.
If you’re staying in Angangueo and looking for interesting places to visit on a day trip, there are several nearby attractions worth exploring. Here’s a list of places of interest you can visit in a one-day excursion:
El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary: This sanctuary is one of the most famous monarch butterfly reserves in the area. Witness the incredible spectacle of millions of monarch butterflies during their winter migration.
Sierra Chincua Butterfly Sanctuary: Another great option to see monarch butterflies is the Sierra Chincua Butterfly Sanctuary. It offers a slightly different perspective on the migration and is equally impressive.
Piedra Herrada Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary: If you’re looking for a quieter experience with monarch butterflies, the Piedra Herrada Sanctuary is known for its serene atmosphere and beautiful landscapes.
El Mirador Lookout: Head to El Mirador, a viewpoint that offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and forests. It’s a great spot for taking photos and appreciating the natural beauty.
Tlalpujahua: This nearby town is famous for its Christmas ornament industry. You can explore workshops where artisans create intricate ornaments, and you might even find some unique souvenirs to take home.
Availability of some attractions may vary depending on the season and local conditions, so it’s a good idea to check in advance and plan your day trip accordingly. Enjoy your exploration of the Angangueo region!
Every year in February, the city hosts a Monarch Butterfly Festival to bid farewell to butterflies as they head north. The festival consists of artistic, and cultural events related to the traditions and customs of the region.
Other holidays and celebrations:
- Feasts of Santa Cruz on May 3
- 11 July is the Day of the Miners
- San Simon on October 28
- Immaculate Conception on December 8
- From Zitacuaro in taxi to Agangueo (0:30 min)
From Mexico City to Agangueo
From Mexico City via Zitacuaro:
- Buses from Mexico City to Zitacuaro (2:45) run every 30 min.
- From Zitacuaro in taxi to Agangueo (0:30 min)
From Mexico City via San Jose de Rincon:
- Buses from Mexico City to San Jose de Rincon (3:25) run every 30 min.
- From Zitacuaro in taxi to Agangueo (0:25 min)
Driving in a car from Mexico City to Agangueo will take 2:20 hours
- Buses from Toluca to Zitacuaro (2:20 hours) run every 30 min.
- From Zitacuaro in taxi to Agangueo (0:30 min)
- Driving in a car from Toluca to Agangueo will take 1:40 hours
From Ciudad Hidalgo
- Buses from Ciudad Hidalgo to Tuxpan (0:20 min) run each 20 min.
- From Tuxpan in taxi to Agangueo (0:40 min)
- Taxi from Ciudad Hidalgo to Agangueo (0:40 min)
From other towns
- Driving in a car from Valle de Bravo to Agangueo will take 1:30 hours
- Driving in a car from Acambaro to Agangueo will take 1:30 hours
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